2015, Priorat, Spain, WINE

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Much like the other titans of European wine production, Spain's industry has deep historical roots and a kaleidoscopic assortment of varietals, styles, and landscapes. Spain has remained the most staunchly traditional (some might even say backward) of the major European wine-producing nations, but the inevitable march of moderniztion and the demands of the international wine market have compelled many producers to adopt new methods and philosophies.

Spain's rivers form the backbone of many of its most important regions, none more so than the river Ebro that flows through the Rioja DOC. Spain's most prestigeous wine region has undergone fluctuations in style and quality like few others over the years. As in the rest of central Spain, Tempranillo is the favored grape for the finest wines, with Graciano and Mazuelo (Carignan) making up the difference in most blends. In youth, these medium-bodied wines are bright, berry-laden crowd pleasers, but with age, the finest ones (Gran Reservas) can develop haunting complexity and texture reminiscent of fine, aged Burgundy. A hallmark of the wines is their aging in new oak, typically American in origin, and a wine's categorization depends on the length of time spent in barrel. White Rioja wines, made from primarily from Viura (Macabeo), are also famously long-lived and usually see the same extended oak regimen as the reds.

Nearby, on the vast expanse of the Castilla y Leon plateau, other regions also excel with Tempranillo. Ribera del Duero is the more rustic cousin to Rioja's refined presentation. In the hotter continental climate, where temperatures fluctuate dramatically from day to night, the Tempranillo grape takes on a decidedly more animalistic tone. It's no coincidence that this region is home to Spain's most expensive and sought-after wine, Vega Sicilia. The ancient Roman settlement of Toro is also renowned for producing perhaps the densest, most luxuriantly ripe versions of Tempranillo, albeit with some latent sense of balance. The Bierzo region on northwest edge of Castilla y Leon is markedly different thanks to a small degree of exposure to influences from the Atlantic Ocean. Cooler temperatures and slate and granite soils are ideal for the Mencia grape to thrive, making for lighter, lively, fruity wines characterized by a profoundly mineral streak. Rueda is the one prominent white wine region on the plateau, where Verdejo is the principal grape.

Over the Sierra de Cantabria mountains, the north coast of Spain is cooler and wetter. From the Albariño wines of the Galician coast and Rías Baixas in the west to the bracing, lightning Txakolina wines of Basque country to the east, this climate is capable of producing some of the raciest, most refreshing white wines in the world. In the Catalan northeast of the country, at the foot of the Pyrenees, the hot, montane climate excels in producing burly, powerful red wines from Garnacha, Cariñena, and Monastrell. The rustic, hilltop villages of Priorat are especially known for ripeness, power, and longevity. The nearby Penedès produces prodminantly white wines, most notably Spain's answer to Champagne, the sparking Cava wines.

Moving south, the climate warms significantly, and the central regions of Spain, like Jumilla, Yecla, and La Mancha all depend on the harda Garnacha and Monastrell grapes to produce their sometimes massive, rustic, bold reds. The Jerez region in the Andalucían south produces Spain's utterly unique Sherry wines. From the dry Fino and Amontillado styles to the richer, more decadent Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez, these wines are some of the most singular styles in the world. While their styles are not friendly to mass consumption, the connoisseur inevitably finds in the finest examples character and complexity that are unmatched.

Spain's wine tapestry is as ancient as anywhere in Europe, and just as varied. While the country has been slow to jump on the modernization wave, it's now well on its way to a bright future.

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94 points Jeb Dunnuck: Part of the Black Slate label that focused on the different villages of Priorat, the 2015 Black Slate La Vilella Alta is a blend of 39% Cariñena, 23% Garnacha, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon and the rest Syrah and Merlot that spent 14 months in 30% new French oak, with a good portion… ...
JD 94
WA 90
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Mas Alta Priorat Black Slate La Vilella Alta 2015  (#702328)

Other Red Blends from Priorat, Spain

94 points Jeb Dunnuck: Part of the Black Slate label that focused on the different villages of Priorat, the 2015 Black Slate La Vilella Alta is a blend of 39% Cariñena, 23% Garnacha, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon and the rest Syrah and Merlot that spent 14…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 12+ available
93 points James Suckling: A modern and densely-fruited expression that has a wealth of concentrated dark chocolate, plum and black licorice as well as strong toasty oak emanating through the finish. Drinking well, but best from 2020. (7/24/17) ...
JS 93
WS 91
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Orowines Priorat BlueGray 2015  (#701935)

Other Red Blends from Priorat, Spain

93 points James Suckling: A modern and densely-fruited expression that has a wealth of concentrated dark chocolate, plum and black licorice as well as strong toasty oak emanating through the finish. Drinking well, but best from 2020. (7/24/17)

750ml Bottle | In stock, 11 available
$16.95
$20.00
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Save $3.05 (15%)
The Black Slate Porrera is a blend of 20-30 year old Garnatxa and Carinyena with a small addition of Cabernet Sauvignon that is aged in neutral barrels for 12 months. The grapes are selected from estate vineyards in the top sites in the village, including the famed Mas d’En Caçador vineyard. ...
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Mas d'en Compte Black Slate Porrera Priorat 2015  (#701865)

Other Red Blends from Priorat, Spain

The Black Slate Porrera is a blend of 20-30 year old Garnatxa and Carinyena with a small addition of Cabernet Sauvignon that is aged in neutral barrels for 12 months. The grapes are selected from estate vineyards in the top sites in the village,…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 12+ available
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